Spreading Holiday Cheer to Our Nation’s Troops

For many of us, Winter Break is either upon us or only a few days away, and for moms, that means frantically finding ways of entertaining our kids so that they aren’t overcome by boredom. While sleeping in a little and a few lazy days will get you through the first few days of Winter Break, getting your kids to express their creativity while giving to others can easily keep them entertained in a meaningful way.

One group, in particular, that can use our additional support during the holidays are those that protect and serve us all year round – our Armed Forces. So if you are looking for ways to get your kids in the spirit of giving during the holiday season, consider having them complete a few of the following inexpensive, military-themed crafts for the perfect holiday care package or gifts for loved ones:

Holiday Greeting Cards for Troops
Troops will say time and time again that one of their favorite things to receive while stationed abroad are handwritten cards from kids. All you need are some markers, crayons, and construction paper and you can turn your kids loose. Let them create as many holiday cards as they desire as long as they are wishing our Heroes a Happy Holidays and thanking them for their service. To have them delivered, you can simply drop them off at the post office or stop by a local military support organization or VA and they will make sure they get delivered.
writing santa 11.30.09 [334]
Blankets for Wounded Warriors
If you’ve got older kids, another fun and inexpensive project for them is making blankets for Wounded Warriors. Many VA treatment centers love receiving these blankets, and the Wounded Warriors that get them are always grateful. To start, contact your local VA to see if they have any specifications for the blankets needed, and then take the kids to the local fabric store to pick out fun fabrics. The blankets can be as intricate as you would like, and your kids will love trying out a new skill.

Wreaths for Local Troops
A more unique way to say “Thank you for your service” is by making wreaths for your local soldiers. If you’ve got younger kids, consider making the wreaths out of construction paper, and then allowing them to decorate them with glitter pens and construction paper ornaments, or check out this tutorial on how to make an Army wreath. Your local soldiers will love the time taken to create them, and they can easily be hung around the local VA without worry for patient health.

However, if you’ve got a few more extra funds or older kids, consider decorating real wreaths for local soldiers outside of the VA. Local Christmas tree farms are more than willing to donate extra boughs for a good cause, and with a few inexpensive bows, strands of garland, and ornaments, you can have a lovely wreath to give as a “thank you” for the local soldiers within your own community.
Christmas in Kuwait 3
Stocking Care Packages
Soldiers serving overseas unfortunately miss out on many of the holiday goodies that we take for granted, and in great abundance, over the holidays. If you are looking for a more extravagant way to give this holiday season, consider creating stocking care packages for troops abroad. Stockings can be purchased for as little as $1 at the local discount store, your kids can decorate them, and then you can stuff them with candy canes (decorated as reindeer, of course!) and other holiday goodies troops may miss out on.

Most care packages cost under $22 to create, and if you drop them off with a local military support organization, they will deliver them for free or at a nominal cost. Just be sure to check out care package guidelines prior to creation to make sure you are sending acceptable items.

Deck the Halls
Now if you are looking to keep a few of your holiday crafts at home, consider decorating your home with a bit more patriotic flare. There is no reason why the American flag has to come down in order to hang up Christmas lights. To get the kids involved, see if there aren’t crafty ways that you can incorporate a little red, white, and blue into your traditional red and greens.

One easy way to do so is simply making a giant-sized holiday card to place in your lawn. At the local hardware store, pre-cut plywood can be cheaply purchased and after a quick coat of white paint, your kids can paint “thank you for your service” and decorate it as they see fit.

The holidays are full of fun craft ideas that can leave your home full of holiday cheer. However, if you can take that holiday cheer outside the home, there really isn’t a better feeling that is more in tune with the holiday spirit. So if you are looking for a few great ways to entertain your kids while also doing something great for those who serve in our community, consider sending holiday cheer to our troops stateside and overseas.

Adrienne May is a military spouse, mother of three and featured author for Military Spouse Central, a network dedicated to providing tips and advice to a community of over 100,000 military families. Follow her on Google+ or tweet her @AdrienneMay.

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This has been a special guest post by Adrienne May from Military Spouse Central.  I am extremely thrilled to share this wonderful article with you today.  Thank you so much Adrienne for sharing this with us.  I love all the ideas on ways we can spread the Christmas cheer and spirit to the courageous people who have volunteered to guard our country.  I look forward to choosing some of these projects with my family.  I have a special soft heart for the military.  Many of my family members have served in the military and I am extremely grateful for all those who are serving currently to protect America.

Which idea did you like the best? or Which one do you think your family might do?  I love hearing your feedback in comments.

You will NOT want to miss tomorrow’s Christmas post.  I have a feeling you will be sharing it with everyone, especially your spouse!  Until then have a beautiful day. 🙂

Let them know it’s Christmas time,

Guest Post from Our House of Joyful Noise

My friend, Laura, from Our House of Joyful Noise is guest posing today on Family Brings Joy:

3 All-American Treats

4th of July will be here soon.  I thought I would share 3 very easy red, white & blue treats, that are perfect ideas for your all-American weekend celebrations and gatherings.

BOWL OF STARS

This is more than an easy, refreshing, cool treat. It’s a decoration, and a festive item on the menu your family and/or guests will be impressed with!

All you do is cut the watermelon in 1/2 the long way, completely cut up one half into thin (about 3/8″) slices, and cut out stars with any star shaped cookie cutters!  I had stars in 3 sizes.   With the other 1/2 of the watermelon, scoop it out as much as a whole piece as you can.  You should then be able to cut that into a few more slices too, and get more stars out of it.


When the 2nd half is all scooped out, you use it as your bowl for all of the stars!

I put a few stars on bamboo forks, to stand up.  You can also use skewers, if you lop off the very sharp end, and cut them to a good size. I stuck some stars on sticks, into the bowl edge/rind, and even stuck in other pieces in the bowl.  Kids love them on a stick!  I had some on a stick too.
So put some star-spangle in your summer!
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Red, White & Blue Fruit Parfait

Here’s another fresh idea, I pulled from our archives.

It couldn’t be any simpler to make:
1) Rinse some strawberries and blueberries in the sink.
Last year, since our strawberry bed was new, we had to use store bought berries. But this year, with our strawberries established, we’ll be getting them from our garden!

2) De-stem and slice the strawberries.

3)  Go through the blueberries real quick , just to make sure there are no smooshy ones, : ) , and also take off any tiny stems still on.

4)  Get out your can of Redi-Whip.

5) In clear cups, layer strawberries, whip cream, blueberries, and more whip cream on the top.

It’s perfect ‘light-little-something’ to hold every one over until dinner.  Or have it breakfast!  Or dessert!
Sprinkle some Grape-Nuts cereal, or granola, on the top, for some crunch!
Simple. Pretty. Tasty.
And simply pretty tasty.
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American Sparkle Cone

This one is an ordinary treat, with a couple special twists.

Scoop some vanilla or chocolate chip ice cream, onto a sugar cone.  Sprinkle on some red and blue sugar crystals.

What kid…..errrr, ….person….doesn’t love ice cream?  Nothing creates quiet, like ice cream cones,….on a warm day.  Know what I’m saying?  Silence I tell you. ; )   Just a whole lot of rapid licking going on!
I’m full of tricks.   And I’m not afraid to use them!
Here was a surprise, no one was expecting….

I put an upside down Hershey Kiss, in the bottom of the cone.   Because I’m the coolest mom on earth. ; P

(Not counting yourself, of course.)

As they were out on the deck, licking up a storm, Michael was peeking out the window at them. I said, “What are you doing?”  He answered….”I don’t want to miss it when they get the Hershey Kiss in the bottom.”  I said…”Are you kidding?  We’ll HEAR it, when they find the Hershey Kiss.”

Sure enough, the whole neighborhood heard their cheers!

I hope these ideas add a little eatin’ fun to your celebrations!  I know when I think of long summer-like weekends, I think of FOOD.  Ohhh….just add some protein and veggies here and there, and you’ll be all set too!

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Thank you Laura for these 3 beautiful and appetizing ideas!  Isn’t her photography gorgeous?!  I think so. 🙂  All of her info is below, including her Tuesday Link Up party.

Blog: Our House Of Joyful Noise
Blog’s Subscription Feed: https://xfruits.com/OurHouseOfJoyfulNoise/?id=70039
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Laura_at_OHOJN
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OurHouseOfJoyfulNoise


Guest Post

My wonderful new blogging friend who I met at my recent blogging conference was gracious enough to invite me to write a post on photography
for her blog: Coffee with the Mrs.
So head over to her blog to meet Amy
and read my first guest post.
Tomorrow I will be sharing photos of our love boxes…
can’t wait to see yours!

Love my job,